Telangana Strike Intensifies, Region Paralysed

The indefinite strike by government employees, teachers, transport and coal workers, lawyers and other sections of people in Telangana for separate statehood continued for the ninth day Wednesday, bringing the region to a virtual standstill.

While public transport services in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Telangana remained paralysed for the third day due to the strike of state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) employees, authorities also curtailed power supply to the city from two to eight hours.

A daily two-hour cut in electricity supply began in Hyderabad Wednesday while a four- to eight-hour blackout is already on in other districts for the last few days.

The strike by employees in state-owned Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) has hit the power generation in 2,600 MW thermal power station of the NTPC at Ramagundam.

The strike by nearly 70,000 SCCL employees has brought to a standstill coal production in 50 mines spread over four districts of Telangana.

As the daily power deficit increased to six million units, mainly due to the impact of the SCCL employees strike on coal supplies, the authorities finally imposed power cuts.

“By sacking some employees, the government thinks it can stop the movement. This is daydreaming,” said Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) convener M. Kodandaram while reacting to dismissal of over 1,355 contract employees by the RTC.

The RTC move to recruit new contract employees sparked tension in some districts with Telangana groups staging protests and stopping the candidates from appearing for interviews.

More sections Wednesday joined “sakala janula samme” or indefinite general strike. Employees of electricity department have stopped collecting electricity charges. The leaders of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of electricity employees said they would only maintain electricity supply.

It is not just power cuts and lack of public transport that has hit the region.

With over 15,000 sanitation workers in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) also joining the strike, the state capital faces a sanitation crisis. According to officials, GHMC workers lift 4,500 tonnes of garbage every day.

Adding to the government’s woes, the JAC of Telangana doctors Wednesday decided to boycott all services except emergency services in government-run hospitals. The JAC warned that if the government invoked provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), they would boycott even the emergency services.

The administration from village to state secretariat has crippled with over 400,000 employees staying away from work for the past nine days. The officials say the government is losing Rs.300 crore in revenues every day due to the strike.

The SCCL is suffering a daily loss of Rs.25 crore as production of 120,000 tonnes of coal has come to a standstill. With 10,000 state roadways buses remaining off the roads, the RTC is running into losses of Rs.7 crore every day.

The strike has severely hit the education sector as the government schools have remained closed due to strike by over 1.5 lakh teachers. Most of the private educational institutions have also shut down to show solidarity with the movement. Over 45 lakh students in the region are missing classes.

The lawyers are also boycotting the courts and actively participating in the movement for a separate state.

Ignoring Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s appeal to withdraw the strike, the JAC of government employees Wednesday decided to hold a public meeting in Hyderabad Friday to intensify the movement. [IANS]

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